Given Vancouver's recent history, you'd be excused for thinking that the Canucks had sent their European scouts to a figurative Siberia instead of the literal one: since the chronological odometer turned over, Russians have played fewer than 300 games here, and the bulk of those were by utility player Artem Chubarov. So the list of potential Immortals is bound to be limited, right?
Well, that's if you hadn't heard a certain something about a short, stocky dude getting his jersey retired, despite only playing here for seven years...
And you forgot a 50-goal scorer who spent his time here at a point-per-game pace...
And you're too young to remember a certain ageless wonder who excelled internationally and professionally for literal decades...
The rest of us know where this is going, so let's get to the nominees!
Yeah, not a stretch to have a two time 60 goal scorer here. He may have left on bad terms with management, but he went out on 51 goals in his final season here. He was frequently injured, but when he was on the ice he was one of the few players, league wide, that could make you stand every time he crossed the blue line. Heck, if you didn't stand up when he crossed centre, odds were pretty good you would miss something. Speed kills, but only when combined with incredibly fast hands: his 779 points in 702 games is a point-per-game pace that leaves other Canucks in the dust. He's also got far and away the most short handed goals by a single player. Fast, dangerous, and scared of nothing, everyone who's seen him play has their own Bure story.
Yes, Virginia, there was a time when we had two brilliant Russian scorers in our lineup at the same time! Mogilny showed up just in time for Bure to have his most injury-prone season - and put up 55 goals and 107 points as a result. Despite just 312 games in a Canucks uniform, he's fourth in short handed goals (13), twenty-first in points (308), and fifteenth in goals (139). Those don't sound like impressive positions, but this was in 312 games on a team that's been around for 40 years!
When you're this smart, they call you "Professor". Larionov was hailed as the Russian Gretzky for how he thought the game well before he ever made it to North America, and did nothing to dissuade fans when he hit Vancouver's ice. He spent all too little time here (a mere 210 games) because of a soap opera involving transfer payments, the Russian Hockey Federation, and shady deals; but when he was here he made anyone he played with better, racking up 51 goals and 92 assists during his brief tenure. Here's how valuable he was: when Detroit lost him to Florida as a free agent, they traded for the 40-year old before half the season was over.
That first guy is a tough act to follow, but the other two are fine picks in their own right - and if you missed Larionov's international play, just look up some clips of the terrifying KLM line at work!
Other Russians considered were... uh... have I mentioned Vancouver's recent history with Russians?